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Paradigm Shift for India’s Hair Care

By: Priyanka Bhattacharya
Posted: September 2, 2008, from the September 2006 issue of GCI Magazine.

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At the second level, marketers are trying to sell the items more as a benefit proposition rather than just as cosmetic product. They also are trying to increase awareness among consumers through creative marketing strategies. Some of the marketers are, in fact, going for a try-before-you-buy method to educate consumers about the products. Although existing marketers are changing their marketing strategies, there are newer international players who are looking to establish business in India.

Changing Consumer Behavior

Traditionally, Indian women have been very nonexperimental with hair care and hairstyling. Most preferred to go for conventional methods, using oil to condition hair, henna to color it and shikakai powder or soaps to wash hair. Other than this routine, most of them did not use any hairstyling or hair care products.

But since 2000, the usage pattern has been changing, resulting in impressive growth for the hair care industry. There is increased awareness among all levels of consumers—from the elite buyers to lower–income customers. Male consumers also have evolved as a category, and products are being introduced to meet the specific needs of men.

The purchasing power of women has improved, and they now are willing to spend more on personal grooming—with hair care taking precedence. In addition, with more available global fashions and trends, women consumers also are ready to try out new hairstyles and colors.

“The Indian women today are much more up-to-date about trends, and do appreciate good service,” said Smira Bakshi, business manager, Kerastase Paris, L’Oréal India. “In fact, our studies show that they are also more willing to pay for good service and are ready to accept the latest hair treatments.”